Two Orioles - East of the Rockies

By Dave Hanks

Orioles are so brightly colored that it’s hard to imagine them as members of the Blackbird Family. If you “plucked” both an oriole and a blackbird, you would have a hard time telling them apart because of their similar body conformation. Our Bullock’s and the Baltimore are sub-species of the Northern Oriole. The black head of the Baltimore is the major color difference. Where their ranges overlap, they will hybridize and the offspring are fertile. This means both birds are of the same species.

The Orchard Oriole is the smallest North American oriole. It is easy to identify because of its dark, chestnut color. It is the darkest of the orioles. In fact, they may appear black until you get your binoculars on them. They are often found close to water bodies, on farms, or in parklands.

Both of these eastern birds inhabit the edges of deciduous and mixed woods. Orioles are monogamous birds that have adapted well to yards, city parks, and tree-lined streets. They are easy to attract to your yard because of their love for fruit and sweets. Grapefruit or orange halves, or sugar water (1 to 6 parts) in a baby chick watering device – all these are irresistible to these birds.

All orioles migrate and when they return to your yard, they will have just completed a remarkable round trip to Central America and back. Their flight over the Gulf of Mexico is non-stop and energy consuming.

The freshness of spring is enhanced By the brilliant colors Flitting amongst the foliage The black and brilliant orange of the Baltimore As contrasted with the deep chestnut of the Orchard Oriole colors make a fitting stimulus To liven up your day A day enhanced by their newly arrived presence!

(Baltimore Oriole top – Orchard Oriole bottom)